De-cluttering a Few Things: July 15, 2013

Hard to believe it's been a month since I visited this place. The Land of Mouse was quite a place to see.
It’s hard to believe it’s been a month since I visited this place. The Land of Mouse was quite a place to see.

A few thoughts to de-clutter as I start preparing for the prep football season, which starts in about 45 days.

Aaron Hernandez:  unless this story turns into O.J. Simpson part deux, Hernandez is in big trouble. Then again, anything can happen in a trial (see O.J., Duke Lacrosse, Casey Anthony, et al.). The point is this: if the prosecution doesn’t prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a suspect committed a crime, they have no case.

Stewart Mandel/Kirk Ferentz:  I guess Mandel was looking for a topic (hey it’s July, not much is going on), decided to throw something up against the wall and came up with the “worst coaches in college football” list, ahem, “right now.”

As Nipsey Russell famously said in “Wildcats”: “riiiiiight.”

Have Iowa struggled over the past few years? Yes. What is that attributed to, besides coaching/Ken O’Keefe/predictable defense/recruits not panning out? Yes, I’m looking at you Grant, Hassel, and the rest of you. And don’t tell me it’s Ferentz’s salary. That’s no longer an excuse to use.

Nearly every Division I-A coach in the six major conferences are paying their coaches in the range of $1-$5 million a year. USC paid Pete Carroll nearly $3 million/year and USC ended up on probation(!) and he skips town. Nick Saban gets $5 million/year and Lane Kiffin get about $3 million. .

It’s called paying the going rate. The next guy who comes to Iowa City will expect to get paid more than Ferentz and you know it. Also know this, his name won’t be Steve Spurrier or Will Muschamp. Iowa isn’t in that blue-blood group of college football royalty with Michigan, Notre Dame, and Bama. So, stop acting like we are in that group.

If anyone who thinks Nick Saban or any top notch coach in America is willing to come to Iowa City and coach the Hawkeyes, you would be wrong. Iowa is a “second-tier” program in their eyes.

No matter how you look at it, the south cares more about football than we do. They got big boosters who are not afraid to back up the Brinks truck to pay for the best coach on the market. And, they’re willing to break laws as well.

There are more Bill Knapps and Dick Jacobsons in the south than here in Iowa. Bobby Lowder and Phil Knight isn’t walking through the doors anytime soon.

And Iowa isn’t Alabama.

For anyone who thinks it’s a travesty that a football coach is the highest paid employee in Alabama and Iowa respectively, may I direct you to Pennsylvania. A college president is the highest paid employee there.

That said president let a pedophile assistant football coach prowl around campus and did nothing to stop it.

That’s your real travesty.

Nobody circles the wagons and drive SI’s Richard Deitsch crazy during the Home Run Derby telecast, like…. #backbackbackbackback (Sports Illustrated)

MLB All Star Game: Thom Loverro wrote about the possible reason for the decline of popularity and interest of the MLB All-Star Game. My opinion: not every team is needed to be represented in the All-Star game, and not all of them have to play in the game, regardless of what their incentive-laden contracts say.

Two can play at this game: Kate Taylor of the NY Times has an eye-opening (not so surprising) article on how women on college campuses are choosing not to pursue relationships and opting for casual encounters, similar to men.

How about these apples, Stephen Bloom!: The 80/35 festival, was a great one. It was my first one, since my family did not hold our annual 4th of July gathering this year. Good weather, great crowds, and different genre of music, headlined by David Byrne and St. Vincent, and Wu Tang Clan. David Byrne went as far as to write his thoughts about Des Moines in his online journal.

David Byrne and St. Vincent performing at 80/35. (

When you read this three-part essay about his time in Des Moines, it’ll make you appreciate having a celebrity write about how lucky and fortunate we are to live in Iowa and what we have going. Yeah, we’re not boring, right?

A tip of the fedora… to Geoff Conn. Geoff has accepted a full-time position with KVVL and KNIM radio in Maryville, Missouri. Geoff is one of the good guys in Des Moines/Central Iowa local radio, especially his work in sports. But above all, he is a man of humility and respect. Grand View University is losing a great announcer and ambassador, more importantly I can’t say how happy I am for him for this opportunity.

Tidbits: I went in for a checkup at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC) in Iowa City late last week for my diabetic retinopathy. Around Memorial Day, there was hemorrhaging of the vitreous in my left eye. My specialist here in Des Moines referred me to Iowa City to determine if I will need a surgical procedure to clean out the hemorrhage.

It was determined I will not need surgery. The hemorrhage has dried up to a point where it does not interfere with my vision, basically the central part of the retina. I will continue receiving laser treatment and medicinal injections to the eyes as preventive maintenance. Down the road, I may need it, eventually, but right now it’s encouraging news to hear.

I hate to miss working football games with everyone’s friend Paul Yeager this fall.

There is no cure for proliferative diabetic retinopathy, only continued treatment for it is the most effective way to keep my eyes from going bad again.

That is good news, considering next month will mark one year since my health problems started. There are some rough days and encouraging days, but I’m slowly starting to feel “normal” again, whatever the “new” normal is. That’s quite alright with me.

With that, I’m grateful to the eye clinic at Broadlawns and UIHC. I would be in a world of trouble without them over the past few months.


Biking for a Cause


The last time I rode a bike was in high school.  A buddy of mine, Matt Fischer, and I rode our bikes from our neighborhood in Highland Park (the one in Waterloo, not Des Moines’) to East High to do our off-season workouts for football.

Matt did the smart thing by taking his bike inside the weight room with him.  I chose to lock my bike up outside.  After we finished working out, I had no bike.  That was $90 down the drain.  Someone stole it.

I brought up that story as a lead-in to this post and what’s going to take place this upcoming weekend.  The American Diabetes Association of Iowa is hosting the inaugural Central Iowa Tour de Cure bicycle ride on Saturday, June 11th.  The bike ride will start inside Water Works Park at the south shelter.  The riders will travel down the Great Western Trail through Martensdale, St. Charles, and back.  Of course, there will be a stop at the world-famous Cumming Tap! 

Who in their right mind is going to bypass Cumming Tap?

We’re excited about starting this new event, but I have to be honest, publicizing Tour de Cure has been a challenge.  The bicycle community is inundated with a lot of events all over the area.  In fact, this weekend is the Tour the Raccoon ride along the Raccoon River, the Gravel Ride to the Sauk Trail, and the BRAMCO ride in Madison County. 

Central Iowa has a strong active bicycle community.  They do a lot of rides, for fun and for charity.  For us at American Diabetes, we’re the new kids on the block.  Over in Eastern Iowa, the Corridor Classic Tour de Cure will have their 4th annual ride in two weeks (June 25th).  It’s one of the most popular bike rides and events over in that part of the state. 

Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have the support of the Iowa Hawkeyes, namely Kirk Ferentz and Norm ParkerParker’s battle with diabetes is well-known.  Norm’s so tough, he’ll be back in the pressbox this season.  The guy has become a personal hero to me as a fellow PWD (person with diabetes). 

We want to be where our colleagues in Eastern Iowa are at, but our main goal is to put together a great event for cyclists to enjoy and tell their friends about doing it in the future.   Rather than ask everyone to raise money this year (the ride is a fundraising event), and since this is our first TdC, we’re opening it up for you to register and ride with us for the day.  Registration is $25 and you can sign up on Saturday morning. 

News and Sports Links – June 2, 2011

Memorial Day has passed and it's time for some "Hot Fun in the Summertime." Ain't that right, Sly? Listen to one of his biggest hits by clicking on the album picture.

It’s a short work week, but the summer swings into full gear with vacations, dips in the pool, and finally getting around to those books you have put off reading.

I know you won’t put off reading some links that flew under the radar over the past few days.  Let’s get to the business at hand.

  • Jesse Eisinger of ProPublica critiques the HBO made-for-TV movie “Too Big to Fail”, chronicling the start of the current financial crisis.  Eisinger points out that the movie wasn’t about how Henry Paulson, Timothy Geithner, and Ben Bernanke was trying to save the nation, but it was how they didn’t see the crisis coming, despite the red flags flying.
  • Eisinger also penned a new article on how it doesn’t pay to be a whistle-blower, as they are ostracized, rather than lauded, by Wall Street for sniffing out corruption and sneaky tactics.  Looks like our quest to stay ethically above the fray means little in today’s society.  Jim Tressel, anyone?
Yale University
  • Brooklyn College journalism professor Ron Howell, a ’70 Yale graduate, pens an eye-opening article in the Yale Alumni Magazine.  He asks if there is added pressure on African-American males to graduate and succeed and if those factors are the cause of their premature and untimely deaths.
  • The great Ken Fang of Fang’s Bites noticed something during Game 1 of the NBA Finals.  You may have seen it too.  The microphones that the ESPN crew were using last night looks different.  It’s because it has moving video where the logo would be at.  Ken has the video of what the mic looks like.
  • With the college baseball season winding down and the College World Series making their debut at Omaha’s new TD Ameritrade Park, Joe Favorito of Sports Marketing and PR Roundup asks if college baseball is missing a golden opportunity to gain more attention in the sports world.  Joe lists a few possible reasons.
Mason City's Ryan Voves rounds the bases during the home opener against Des Moines North on Tuesday. (Jeff Heinz/Globe Gazette)
  • Finally Kirk Hardcastle from the Mason City Globe-Gazette covered the prep baseball home opener for Mason City as they hosted Des Moines North on Tuesday night at Roosevelt Field.  Things went sour for the North Polar Bears, really sour, to the tune of a 40-0 polaxing at the hands of the Mohawks.  Fellow sports writer Jared Patterson asks the proverbial question:  “how would you handle a 31-run inning?” 

I did have a few thoughts about the ongoing saga and mess at Ohio State University and the resignation of football coach Jim Tressel, aka Sweater Vest.  If there were any room to add to the Ten Commandments, I would add these two edicts:

Thou shall not lie to the NCAA. 

Thou shall not lie to the federal government. 

Yes, there is a reason why the feds should be investigating issues pertaining to sports:  if MLB, NFL, and the NCAA can’t seem to clean house or get their acts in order, someone has to do it.  Or at least threaten them.

And, no for the one and only time, Kirk Ferentz is not a candidate to replace Tressel.

“Just the Facts Ma’am”

Last month I wrote on how we should “get the facts” first and let things play out, rather than spouting about what we heard and posting it on Twitter, message boards and various social media platforms, without confirming it.   Sadly, many of us that can’t seem to abide by this, because we’re back at square one.

Now, here’s my four cents worth, a few days removed from the story of the 13 UI football players who were hospitalized with symptoms of rhabdomyolysis:

  • I didn’t have a problem with what Gregg Doyel wrote.

Here me out, folks.  Yes, Iowa fans were furious when he suggested that someone should be fired for 13 players ending up in the hospital for rhabdomyolsis.  Doyel main concern was about the players’ health.  If you think I’m crazy, I encourage you to read Doyel’s column from August 2010 about his concern about players adding on weight and putting their health at risk.

Gregg Doyel of CBS Sports online. Don't send him hate mail, because he will make you a topic in his "Hate Mail" every Thursday.

He didn’t write the August piece to be a smartass, though he has the reputation of being one, but with the issues of concussions, painkillers, and other health issues that players face during and after their careers are over, is one of debate and discussion.

  • How is Iowa SID Phil Haddy not take some responsibility on how convoluted the last two press conferences have went?

Yes, everyone expects the athletic director and the coach to be there and to answer all  the questions, but given the way the “pressers”, as media professionals call them, are arranged and handled, it is the sports information director’s job to make sure the pressers go smoothly, communicate press releases, et cetera.

  • I want to give Jon Miller of Hawkeye Nation a nod for his piece.  He is the closest person to the athletic program with regards to media, for he is the sports director at WHO radio and runs Hawkeye Nation.

Jon succinctly wrote, as Jim Mora would eloquently said…

I take Jon Miller’s view of the situation over that of Pat Forde and Jim Rome.  Jon, Marc Morehouse, Mike Hlas and others who are embedded in Iowa City work hard to get the story accurate and right, and make fair criticisms and offer praise.  That is what reporters do.  They don’t sit behind a microphone like Rome and form opinions based on “second-hand” heresy.

Jim Rome may have a lot of listeners, but Doyel can and will eat his lunch. Plus, Doyel is on the road covering stories.

In case you didn’t know, Forde and Rome has never liked Ferentz.  They have never given him praise for the good things the program has done.  All that Ferentz gets is scorn if one small thing goes wrong.

Forde thinks that Ferentz is a fraud and can’t coach.  Pat, if a guy can beat Michigan 3-4 times in the last 10 years, goes 7-2 versus Joe Paterno, and win 3 straight bowls game for the first time in school history, I guess that coach knows what he is doing.

I used to enjoy listening to Rome when I was younger.  Not as much today, because he is closed-minded and think that what comes out of his mouth is pure gold.  He still harbors a grudge back in 2002, when Ferentz politely declined to be a guest on his show.  Rome’s response was “What does he think he is, Bear Bryant?  Guys like him are a dime a dozen.” He has went as far to block Iowa callers from responding and talking about the team.

That’s not professional.  That’s childish.  Sadly, he continues to conduct his show in that manner.

Forde and Rome have shown in the past their unwillingness to respond to Iowa fans.  Both of them will not come on local shows to openly discuss their issues about Iowa and why they don’t like Ferentz.

Give Doyel credit on this:  he read Jon’s blog and responded to it.  Will Jim Rome do that?  Hell no.

Kirk Ferentz and Iowa SID Phil Haddy. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

Gregg Doyel is a bigger man for being willing to hear a different view. He may not agree with Miller, but the fact that he acknowledged it and tweeted it speaks volumes.  That is why I like him and read his columns.

It’s funny, last month we, the fans, wanted the coaches and administrators fired.  That is, until the football team beat Missouri.  But we hate it when someone else who doesn’t live here pops off about our school and we become defensive. Welcome to the world of hypocrisy.

Welcome to college athletics.  If your team is mentioned across the nation, then you have to be ready to deal with the bad, as well as the good when it comes to your program.

We All Need “Coaching”

Jamarcus Russell

Recently, I watched an interview of former Oakland Raiders quarterback Jamarcus Russell.  Russell was the first pick in the NFL Draft several years ago.  Since the end of last season, Russell was released by the Raiders and was arrested in July for possession of a controlled substance known as “purple drank.”  NFL critics and fans are starting to consider Russell the “biggest bust” in the history of the NFL.

That’s a lot to say when the other “busts” have been Ryan Leaf and Tony Mandarich, among a selected few.

How can a player of Russell’s caliber be such a bust?

Is it because his coach didn’t develop him to prepare him for the NFL?

It leads me to believe that his college coach, LSU’s Les Miles,  either didn’t spend more time helping Jamarcus work on his mechanics and maturity as a quarterback, or Russell thought that he didn’t need to change his “game”.  Talent is a great thing to have, but you have to hone your skills and work on your weaknesses in order to be ready for whatever happens.

Jim Tressel aka "Sweater Vest" (left) and Kirk Ferentz (right)

Which is why Kirk Ferentz is respected and admired by the NFL community.  NFL coaches and scouts know that when a former Hawkeye joins their team, that player is ready mentally, physically, and prepared for the next challenge.

Just like in sports, “coaches” are everywhere and are available to help people work on a weakness, better utilize their strengths and skills, and help build confidence to tackle on life’s challenges.

There’s a “career” coach, “life” coach, and even a “motivational” coach.  There is a coach for almost anything that we need help in.

You Can Pass In the Songbooks on This One!

Slow and steady wins the race. Photo courtesy of Associated Press and Huffington Post

The great Ron Gonder said it best with the title line.  Bob Brooks would extend the tip of the fedora (hat) to them.  Jim Zabel will scream “I love it!” to no end, and Frosty Mitchell would find superlatives to describe last night’s 2010 Orange Bowl as the Iowa Hawkeyes made it 2-0 for the state in bowl games by disposing Georgia Tech. 24-14.

Football fans in this state has proven that they know their teams better than the nationally recognized college football analysts, unless they were not biased towards the Big 10.  Some have resorted to criticize coach Kirk Ferentz for being a nobody coach who has no business guiding his team into big-name bowl games, like the Orange.

Take heed, some of them have eaten their crow.  The rest of them will not and find excuses to ignore what they saw Tuesday night.  That’s okay.  That’s a “you” problem for them.  Not ours.

Even when we started to doubt, which was common for us over the past 11 years, Kirk was steady and cool under pressure.

All year long, we told those who were non-believers that Iowa is who they are:  a grind-it-out, disciplined, no-frills team that follows the New England Patriots mantra of “do your job” and good things will come your way.  Well, we were right.  Now, we can sit back and enjoy and look back at the roller coaster ride of the 2009 Iowa football season.  This team didn’t give up, even when UNI had two chances to win, Good Ricky turned into Bad Ricky, losing Ricky against Northwestern, and the heroic effort versus Ohio State.

The Ohio State game stands out not on how they lost and missed a chance to win it.  It stood out because they played as a “team”.  A “team” with “character”.  “Don’t ever count us out, and don’t give up on us.”

The same can be said for Iowa State this season.  A new coach and the same issues plagued this band of Cyclones.  No one expected how much Paul Rhoades “wanted” to be the head Cyclone.  He showed us how much he wanted to be “the man” in Ames.  They took their lumps, of course, but look at the the wins!  At Lincoln?  Thanks to 8 Big Red turnovers?  How could that be? ?

It was that game where the Gene Chizik era officially ended, with this one lasting image:

If you didn’t feel good about this guy and this team, well, I can’t help you there.  Finishing 7-6, to many teams, is a good way to salvage a season.  For ISU, this was more than they expected.  Rhoades instilled confidence in a team that has talent, but no direction.  He gave encouragement, when they didn’t receive it.  Rhoades knew this team can win and improve.  All it took was a few words in the bowels of Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska for this ISU team to “go all in” with the new guy.

Maybe there is belief in building a program and maintaining it in the right way.  Maybe it’s better to be “under the radar” and playing “your” game, than to be the pressure-cooker powerhouses at places at Florida, Texas, and Alabama.

I like where Iowa and ISU are at.  Never let it be said that Iowans don’t believe in strong work ethic, character, and playing smart football.